Nonprofit organization introduces theater culture to residents in Downtown Detroit

Detroit Public Theatre brings performances to heart of city

DETROIT – If you love the theater, this week's Your Neighborhood story is right up your alley, and if you've never attended a play, this is your chance, as well.

A Metro Detroit nonprofit organization is bringing theater to the city of Detroit and getting everyone involved in the culture.

"Detroit Public Theatre is a small, professional theater company," co-founder Courtney Burkett said. "We really focus on Detroit stories and stories that will resonate for Detroiters."

Now at the start of its fifth season, Detroit Public Theatre is back in production, bringing world-class productions to the heart of the city. People from neighborhoods all across the city can enjoy plays at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

"We saw a hole in the cultural landscape, and we felt that we wanted to have Detroit have a world-class theater," Burkett said.

But this is about more than just theater. The organization is bringing theater to the people, connecting the culture with those who might not otherwise experience it.

"We connect those plays to our communities,” co-founder Sarah Winkler said. “We go into Detroit Public Schools with our artists, and we work on the connections between the plays and social studies curriculum and English curriculum and literature curriculum, and we connect the kind of vibrancy that a play can give to a historical moment to the students. We create conversations in the classrooms."

"We bring actors and artists into the schools and share some of the scenes, but then they come to the theater and see the fully realized performance,” Burkett said. “It's really exciting for them because they see themselves and their families represented on the stage."

"We also bring our plays out into the communities with free tours," Winkler said.

That way, everyone has a chance to experience the theater, whether they can afford it or not. For those who can't visit the theater, Detroit Public Theatre goes to them.

"We have a Shakespeare in Prison program that connects theater with our inmate ensembles, 90% of whom will be returning to their community," Burkett said.

Ticket prices are designed to be affordable.

"They range from $20 to $47.50," Winkler said. "We're a public theater. We want the public to have access to this riveting and relevant work."

For Burkett and Winkler, they've found a unique way of not just pursuing their passion, but using it to give back to the community.

Click here for more information about the Detroit Public Theatre.

About the Author:

Evrod Cassimy is the morning anchor for Local 4 News Today. He joined WDIV in August of 2013. He is an award winning journalist and a six-time Emmy Award nominee. Evrod was born in Michigan but grew up in the Chicagoland area.